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    City College Update, State Senate Polling and the Year of the Woman

    rafealSome Good News from City College

    Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and Mayor Ed Lee dropped by City College’s Downtown Center at 4th and Mission on April 7th to tour the facilities and help draw attention to the opening of registration for the College’s summer semester. After years of challenges, City College remains open and accredited, but our enrollment is way down, which will create a host of new challenges if we cannot turn the trend around. The April 7th press event was an opportunity to highlight a few of the College’s excellent career and technical education programs, including our culinary, fire sciences, nursing and automotive programs.

    Meanwhile, the State of California recently awarded $3 million to the College in support of Bridge to Success, a collaborative effort among CCSF, San Francisco Unified School District, the Mayor’s Office, San Francisco State, and the community. Bridge to Success, already in operation at City College, aims to double the number of youths who achieve college credentials in San Francisco. The award of the grant means the program not only can continue keeping local students on track, but also has funds to expand offerings, making the program even better. San Francisco State’s Metro College Success Program (Metro), a joint program of State and City College, also received one of the highly competitive $3 million grants.

    The College’s Speech and Debate Team has been garnering some nice media coverage as it picks up awards and prizes at competitions around the State and beyond. Indeed, City College’s team is ranked first in our region, which includes California, Nevada and Hawaii, and just this month our students competed and won awards at the National American Forensics Association National Individual Events Tournament, the most prestigious speech tournament in the country.

    Finally, City College’s bond rating, which was downgraded at the height of the accreditation crisis in 2013, has been working its way back up, allowing the College to refinance its bond debt. That refinancing will save in the neighborhood of $40 million, money that will be returned to the San Francisco taxpayers in lower property tax bills. You are welcome, San Francisco taxpayers.

    The work of rebuilding the College remains far from complete, but it’s a treat to have some good news to share.

    A Wide Open Senate Race

    The Harvey Milk Club’s recent poll testing the relative strengths of various candidates for San Francisco’s State Senate seat next year confirmed that Tom Ammiano, even out of elected office, remains one of the most popular public figures in San Francisco. In a hypothetical match-up against District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, the poll apparently showed Ammiano ahead by 14 points. Not to say that a tireless campaigner like Wiener could not close that gap, but all else being equal, it’s better to be the guy entering the race with a double-digit lead. In other hypothetical match-ups, the poll apparently showed District 9 Supervisor David Campos four points ahead of Wiener; in a match-up against District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim, Wiener apparently starts the race 5 points ahead.

    Year of the Woman

    rafaelKim would start a Senate campaign with the lowest public profile of the four, but her campaign could be strengthened in a year when Hillary Clinton is all but certain to be the Democratic nominee for President and voters may be inclined to try to bring a little gender equity down the ticket as well. San Francisco has not had a female representative in the State legislature since Mark Leno defeated Carole Migden back in 2008.

    Meanwhile, for the first time in my memory, most of the leading progressive candidates for the Board of Supervisors next year are likely to be women: School Board Commissioner and fourth generation Chinese American Sandra Lee Fewer in District 1, David Campos’ widely respected aide Hillary Ronen in District 9, and queer Latina mom, former District Director for Tom Ammiano and current Political Director of SEIU 1021 Kimberly Alvarenga in District 11. Since the advent of District elections in 2000, the most prominent progressive politicians in San Francisco have been straight men (too often, badly behaved ones). 2016 could be the year that changes, and not a moment too soon.

    Rafael Mandelman is an attorney for the City of Oakland. He is also President of the City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees.